Beloved Sanctified Ones,
What would you like to say to Your People as we enter 2022, Abba? I heard: “Sanctification, Consecration, Holiness.” Now is the time. This is the hour. If not now, when? When a traditional Jew hears the word kiddush, kid-DOOSH, he generally thinks of one thing: the blessing over the wine on Shabbat and holy days. “Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech haOlam borei pri hagafen. Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.” With this blessing the day is “set apart” for holy purposes (consecration of TIME to God) just as Israel is set apart as God’s people. “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you'” (Ex. 31:13).
Throughout the Tanach (Old Covenant), we see God sanctifying. He sanctified the seventh day (Gen. 2:3), Aaron and his sons (Ex. 28:41), the firstborn of Israel (Num. 3:13), the house of God (2 Chr. 7:16), and the prophet Jeremiah before he was born (Jer. 1:5). The priests and Levities also sanctified themselves to the Lord (1 Chr. 15:14). The God of Israel has a name for His “sanctified ones”: למקדשי pronounced leem-koo-dah-SAY (Isa. 13:3).
“The God who Sanctifies” is Adonai HaM’ka-desh (Ah-doe-NYE ha-Mi-kah-DESH). He said to Israel, “Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. And you shall keep My statues, and perform them; I am the LORD who sanctifies you” (Lev. 20:7-8). This is why the blessings said before obeying any commandment in the Tanach begin with the words, “Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha-Olam asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav… Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe who has sanctified us with His commandments…”
Sanctification in the New Covenant
Sanctification in the Brit Hadasha is based on the Old Testament word kiddush. Sanctification or holiness conveys the following ideas, according to Myer Pearlman in Knowing the Doctrines of the Bible: 1) Separation: The root meaning of the Hebrew word for holy, kodesh, is “separation.” God is separate from all other gods and from all that is earthly and human. He is unique. He has absolute moral perfection and Divine majesty. That makes Him “Holy,” Kadosh (Ka-DOSH) or Separate, 2) Dedication: Sanctification includes both a separation from and a dedication to something. Disciples of Yeshua are separated from sin and the world, made partakers of the Divine nature, and consecrated to the fellowship and service of God through the Messiah. 3) Purification: Those dedicated to God share His nature. They are clean because of Yeshua’s death on the tree of sacrifice. Rabbi Saul, in exhorting the congregation at Corinth, made a distinction between their past lives and their new lives in Messiah: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Yeshua and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11). Believers, however, have an ongoing role to play where purification is concerned. “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, A new you in 2022! let us cleanse ourselves from all the filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1). (See also 2 Peter 1:4.) God has given us promises in His Word through which we can become partakers of the divine nature. Our choice. We can choose holiness and purity. God empowers and gives grace, but we can do what King David chose to do: “…I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set nothing wicked before my eyes…” (Ps. 101:2-3). 4) Holy Living: We are commanded in the New Covenant to live lives of holiness, to be separate because we are not our own and have been bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:20). We read in 1 Peter 1:15, “…but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.” 2 Corinthians 6:17-18 says, “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.” Neil and I always taught that it seemed to us that people experience the Fatherhood of God—His Abba nature—to the extent that they separate themselves unto Him. We, by the grace of God, made that step as soon as we met our Messiah. For some people, it takes years. But it is never too late. In fact, today is the day to go all in with God!
It is time to conquer the “ites,” a thought gleaned from Don Nori in Breaking Generational Curses. Read Deuteronomy 7:1-5 and you will see that when God brought the Israelites into the Promised Land, He promised them victory over the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. All the “ites.” However, Israel had to war against them, conquer them, and destroy their pagan altars. They had to fight and take a stand for God. No compromise.
Holy living today involves warring against many “ites.” Jon D. Payne in an article sent to us by James Z., one of our inmate partners, made the following statement: “Sincere believers do not make deals with the world. We are called and empowered to live by conviction, not compromise, even amid fierce opposition.” Daniel and his three friends in Babylon had to war spiritually against the “ites” of a false religion that made it illegal for them to worship God as they always had. In refusing to bow down to a golden image, they submitted to the punishment of being thrown into a fiery furnace. In Payne’s words, “The Bible is full of emboldening examples of those who held fast to the promises of God in the face of cultural lies, pressure, and persecution—men and women of whom ‘the world was not worthy,’ (Heb. 11:38), and who ‘rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of Messiah’ (Acts 5:41).” Yeshua said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you…” (Jn. 15:18). 5) Service: Sanctification involves possession by God and service toward God. New Covenant believers are “saints” (hasidim, ha-see-DEEM), a consecrated holy people, a holy priesthood, dedicated servants of God who present themselves as living sacrifices to Him (Rom. 12:1). Our “work” is also our “worship” as expressed in one Hebrew word: avodah (ah-voe-DAH).
Sanctification is the will of God. “because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy'” (1 Peter 1:16). I found a little book in my Salvation Army collection titled The Way of Holiness by Samuel Logan Brengle, known as the “Special Spiritual Ambassador of Holiness.” His book helped me understand why I had so many Army relatives, including my grandparents. Commissioner Brengle maintains that a believer’s destiny will only be achieved in a life separated unto Him. In his words, “A holy life is a life given to God and accepted by Him. He is the holy man who lives no more to himself; who lives no longer for his own will or in the way or spirit of the world, but who lives to God and in His will; who loves and obeys Him, considers and serves Him in everything, and who makes all the common, as well as the sacred things of his life, honour his Lord by doing them in such a manner as pleases Him.” A lofty goal—but not impossible. “…’Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD of hosts'” (Zech. 4:6).
Sanctification is not religious legalism nor conforming to an outward set of rules. Rather, it is about a relationship—intimacy with our Creator—a choice. I never realized that the concept of holiness was implicit in Neil’s exhortation to Jonathan and Jesse each day when he dropped them off at school. He said to them: “Choose God. Choose good. Choose to be a blessing.”
According to the Bible, sanctification is a means of knowing God more fully: “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). God wants this for all of us in 2022—a new level of intimacy and purity enabling us to see the Lord in all aspects of our lives. There are many new things for us in 2022: a new covenant (internal), a new heart (circumcised), a new hope (living), a new perspective (eternal), a new attitude (thankful), a new standard (holiness), and a new relationship (daily and intimate). Yeshua makes all things new (Rev. 21:5)!
The Means of Sanctification
There are three ways in which sanctification is accomplished in the New Covenant: the blood of Messiah, the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God. The blood of Yeshua provides us with absolute and positional sanctification. His finished work on the cross has given us right standing with the Father. “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (Heb. 10:14). Also, Hebrews 13:12, “Therefore Yeshua also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.”
The Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) is part of a “progressive sanctification” that changes us from the inside, transforming our very nature. He makes us new. “…God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Thes. 2:13).
The Word of God is an external and practical means of sanctification. In Yeshua’s prayer of John 17, referring to His disciples, He prayed, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth” (vs. 17-19). Yeshua expanded and elevated the concept of being “sanctified by the commandments.” He is the Living Word of God and He is the Truth (Jn. 14:6). As we look into His Word daily, it functions as a mirror, revealing to us the defilements and imperfections that must be defeated if we are to walk in holiness (James 1:22-25).
Sanctification and the Heart
Sanctification, in the final analysis, is about connecting with God and becoming like Him. I love what Chris Tiegreen says in 90 Days Thru the Bible about holiness: “Because God is relentlessly, passionately, and unfathomably good, holiness for us means becoming relentlessly, passionately, and unfathomably good. At its core, holiness means turning away from anything—thought, word, or deed— that contradicts our relationship with God and embracing our relationship with Him in every area of life.”
Sanctification includes putting off the deeds of the flesh—a heart separation from them. “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Messiah Yeshua, and have no confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3:3). Circumcision of the heart involves “putting off” and “putting on.” The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:22-24, “that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” We read in Colossians that Messianic believers are to “put off” fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, covetousness, anger, malice, blasphemy, filthy language, and lying (Col. 3:5, 8-9). B.H. Clendennen in The School of Christ commented: “Conformity to Christ necessitates the death of the old, and the growth of the new.” Let’s do it—Let’s be NEW in ’22.
While we are helpless in ourselves, and apart from Yeshua we can do nothing, a truth remains; “I can do all things through Messiah who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). Persevere. Choose to be like Yeshua. Choose to love Him more. Commissioner Brengle calls holiness “a love service.” He calls the way of holiness a “new and living way” (as opposed to an old, dead tiresome, heart-breaking way of forms and ceremonies that leave the soul unsatisfied). This “new and living way” is the constraining love of Messiah (2 Cor. 5:14-15). Brengle concludes: “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19). Trust Him. Give yourself wholly and heartily to Him, be sure you serve Him for love, and you will have learned the secret of a holy, happy life.”
In Bible times, when a girl was betrothed to her beloved it was called kiddushin, another word for sanctification. She was “set apart” to him. As he placed a ring on her finger he said, “Harai at mekideshet lee.” “Be sanctified to me…” We, as believers, are set apart to our Heavenly Bridegroom, Yeshua. Rabbi Saul (Paul) alludes to this in Ephesians 5:25-27, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Messiah also loved the kehilah (church) and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious kehilah, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” Yeshua’s will is our sanctification.
Sanctification and the Empty Shell
I came across a poem by Amy Carmichael (a 19th century missionary to India for 55 years) called The Shell, which spoke to me about an aspect of holiness that I have yet to attain: all of Yeshua and none of me. To be filled with the fullness of God.
Upon the sandy shore an empty shell,
Beyond the shell infinity of sea;
O Savior, I am like that empty shell;
Thou art the Sea to me.
A sweeping wave rides up the shore, and, lo,
Each dim recess the coiled shell within
Is searched, is filled, is filled to overflow
By water crystalline.
Not to the shell is any glory then;
All glory give we to the glorious sea.
And not to me is any glory when
Thou overflowest me.
Sweep over me, Thy shell, as low I lie,
I yield me to the purpose of Thy will;
Sweep up, O conquering waves, and purify,
And with Thy fullness fill.
Our God can certainly use “empty shells.” I received a phone call in November from a 24 year old woman who had found one of my empty seashells with a written message on it. I was surprised, since I had not “cast my bread upon the waters” for months. Then, she told me that she had found the shell in 2006 when she was 9 years old! Zara was at her mother’s house looking through some childhood treasures. When I asked her what the seashell said and if it was meaningful to her, she replied: “Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem. God will prosper you.” There was a Star of David on the shell as well. Zara said it was indeed meaningful because she is Jewish. Oh, my. Only God! I was shocked because the chances of a Jewish person finding a shell with a Jewish message are infinitesimal (since she did not find it on Rosh HaShanah). We had a wonderful conversation which ended with Zara thanking me for sharing my story (testimony) with her. Prayer appreciated. This story is not over.
What is the Lord saying to us? Let Go. Let God. Be that empty shell (die to self). Live for Yeshua. Believe God and walk in love. Be filled with His Spirit and His Glory. Know that the Lord’s timing is always perfect. There is great joy in belonging to Yeshua, and in choosing His will above our own. “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Yeshua HaMashiach…” (1 Thes. 5:23-24).
Love in the Sanctifier,
P.S. Good news from my 12/21 check-up. The hormone therapy is shrinking the tumors. Blood
work is normal. Three more months on the hormone pills. Your prayers are availing much!